MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Heartache for one family became the gift of life for another. One year after a Wisconsin man received a heart transplant, his journey came full circle when he met his donor’s family.
“I’ve been blessed with a great match,” Tom Schroeder said.
It’s been one year since Schroeder received a second chance at life.
“It was very special, like we were soul brothers,” he said.
In need of a heart transplant, Tom spent 50 days in the hospital before doctors found a match last August. His new heart came from 32-year-old Joshua Holland.
Three months after his surgery, Tom wrote to his donor’s family and received a six-and-a-half page letter back.
“It was titled, ‘My Heart’s First Journey,'” Schroeder said.
Among the many things Tom learned about Joshua, he discovered his donor was a Cubs fan. It was only fitting that Tom — a Brewers fan — would meet Joshua’s family at Miller Park ahead of Saturday’s Brewers-Cubs game.
“He’s embodying my uncle… I see my uncle in him,” Jerzie Wilkerson, Joshua’s niece, said.
Wilkerson joined Schroeder to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. She threw to Craig Counsell, Schroeder, to Joe Madden.
“It’s incredibly touching and to be honest, I’ve never seen that in all of my training. For the donor family to be reunited with the recipient,” said Dr. Eric Weiss, heart surgeon.
They set aside a storied rivalry to enjoy a new, lifelong bond.
“I’ll be watching the game with my new family,” Schroeder said.